OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Addiction treatment experts report alcohol sales are up since the pandemic began and so is the number of people seeking help for an addiction to alcohol.
The staff at Foundations Recovery Center report they've seen a 20 percent spike in calls from people seeking help and a 20 percent jump in admissions for treatment.
Grocery stores weren't the only essential businesses permitted to stay open during the pandemic, liquor stores also were allowed to continue to serve customers. Many bars and restaurants also offered delivery and drinks to go.
For some people, the combination of easy access to alcohol, the stress of losing their job and the isolation of social distancing make for an unhealthy combination for those dealing with addiction.
Foundations Recovery Center Executive Director Christina Wilson said “I think one thing I've seen more than anything else is just so much hopeless isolation. They can't go to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous, to seek help. They don't know who to turn to and who to ask for help.”
“One of the most important ways to heal from active addiction, is connection. It's connection with others. It’s connection with the community. It’s connection with the self. So, it's very difficult to translate that energy and that connection when you're not face to face with someone,” Wilson said.
Wilson wants people to know help is still available.
“The contact center at Amatus is great, because they can just call, and they can just ask questions, and they can do pre-assessments and we'll find what works for them,” Wilson said.
Amatus Admissions Coordinator Chris Farrell has seen the call volume soar from the number of people seeking help with an alcohol problem during the outbreak.
“I did not think that it was going to be that intense at first but considering, seeing how liquor stores are being considered essential businesses, knowing they can't interfere with people's drinking, made me realize we need to make sure we're there to help people” Farrell said.
“Given that this pandemic wasn't going on, after they would complete treatment, they would be able to go and attend AA meetings, where they would be able to find other people going through similar situations that they themselves are going through and they're able to talk about it in a public setting so they know that they're not alone,” Farrell added.
An exponential increase in alcohol sales plus a growing number of people relapsing or developing an addiction aren't the only factors on the rise, so has the size of the staff at Amatus.
“A lot of the people who work for us are in recovery as well. So, we're able to be very sympathetic with the people that call in, showing they had time in recovery and just relapsed, that's how recovery works. It's not going to be something that's going to be perfect. It’s going to be a lot of trial and tribulation. Relapse unfortunately is a part of it” Farrell said.
Wilson explains some of the methods used at foundations recovery center.
“Here at Foundations, we assign each individual to a primary therapist, we also have a medical team, we run group therapies, individual therapies,” Wilson said.
“I try to bring different types of healing. we can do yoga, health and fitness, nutrition, meditation, just different things. It doesn't always look exactly the same for each person,” Wilson added.
For those who recognize they have a problem the next step is to reach out for help. A few counselors are taking calls at the Owings Mills contact center while most of the staff is working from home, just as many of their clients needing treatment also are at home.
“We've been doing a lot of telehealth, so we're able to have clients stay at housing, while there still participating in group, meeting with their therapists, and meeting with their counselors and so on, so we're keeping the precautions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic,” Farrell said.
Adding to the stress of losing a job is losing the health insurance which comes with it, but that shouldn’t stop people from seeking help for their addiction.
“Unfortunately when you lose your job and you have your insurance through your employer, you're no longer receiving that insurance either, and you don't have medical insurance coverage. We have facilities that accept state-run medicaid insurance so if they're able to call the state and get themselves enrolled into a medicaid coverage, we'd be able to help facilitate getting them into a treatment center,” Farrell said.
Contact Amatus Recovery Centers for help: 833-80-SOBER.